Sound Off: Medical care in military lacking

First I would like to thank Whidbey Community Physicians and staff and especially Dr. Glass who will be leaving the practice soon.

I want to extend my appreciation for the care and concern of the practice. The time and effort that went into helping me, the late night phone calls just to check how my daughter was doing, finding specialists that would take Tricare, asking the specialist to reconsider taking Tricare to help our family.

I unfortunately have Tricare-prime for insurance. I am the dependent of an active duty military member. Due to my health problems a supplemental insurance company would not insure me and the cost of insuring me at work would be equal to my paycheck.

I have asked to seek a civilian doctor when I had inadequate care at a military hospital. This was not the first time I have asked to use civilian doctors for my children and myself and this is not the first military facility I have received inadequate care. The list is long. It is a problem all of us military and dependents face. I am not saying all doctors and nurses and staff are poor in military facilities. Many are well qualified and well trained, however, we have contracted doctors and staff (not in the military) that often cannot find employment elsewhere. We have old and inadequate equipment in our hospitals, not enough staff to treat the amount of people they need to serve, appointments can take weeks, anyone who visits the pharmacy knows you will be waiting sometimes up to two hours. You will seldom see a doctor more then once and if you have a serious condition that is critical for your health our ER is full most of the time due to a lack of available appointments. Allowing patients to have a choice is so very important.

The military medical system lacks consequences when you receive poor care or even when there is a mistake.

The military cannot be held responsible when they make a mistake, accidentally hurt, maim, or kill an active duty member. They have caps and limitations when it is at fault, and good luck with tracking the information with records lost, misplaced, or information missing.

Do not become ill on a weekend or holiday or need a test like an ultra-sound to see why you are screaming in pain and then go to a military hospital. They will have to call someone in and if they feel like you’re “putting on a bit” they will not call someone in to perform a test on a three day weekend.

This happened to a good friend of mine. I insisted she go to Whidbey General after she was sent home from a military ER room. She had gangrene from her gallbladder rupturing. My husband went in for pain in his leg after a bad fall. I suspected he had blood clots. Looking at his leg the doctor laughed and asked my husband where I got my medical degree, prescribed him Motrin and sent him home. I insisted my husband go to the civilian doctor after the military medical clinic closed. He had three blood clots when they bothered to take the time to run some tests.

A few months ago one of the guys from the squadron went in to have some warts removed. He is now having skin grafts since the doctor had an oops.

I could go on and on but this is just a few examples of how our military and their families are taken care of.

All hospitals and staff make mistakes I know, my mother’s a nurse. The problem is we need to have choices and options and not be forced to use a military treatment facility.

The civilians that treat us should be paid a fair wage and not have to work for what Tricare wants to pay.

I would tell you to call your local Tricare office but you cannot. You see they do not take calls, complaints, questions or even give information, and the hospital will not give you their number either. If you have an issue you have to go see them in person, sign in and take a number and wait or call the regional line and be placed on hold.

I have waited as long as two hours.

I have been a Navy wife for 18 years and a military child for 18 years. These issues have always been the same. Please begin writing your elected representatives and the CO of your treatment facilities. Let them know how you feel and how you have been taken care of, let your ombudsman know so they can express your concerns to those that can make a difference when they come to visit.

Ms. B.L. Huston

lives in Oak Harbor.

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